Founded 12 years ago by two twenty-something Scottish guys with a vision to revolutionise craft beer, BrewDog now distributes its products in 65 countries and shortly plans to open its fifth global brewery in Sydney. Lisa Paton, BrewDog's International Growth Director, shares some advice on how to grow your brand overseas.
BrewDog is a brand that started life doing things differently. Rejected for funding by the Bank of England, founder's James and Martin launched their first crowdfunding campaign by driving a tank through the City of London to the Bank's front door. Their campaign was hugely successful and BrewDog is now the UK's largest independent craft beer company.
Being disruptive is a core mantra that BrewDog still lives by, says Lisa. 'For us, it's always Day One,' she says. 'We still believe we're a start-up and we have to maintain that mentality, as the second we start implementing processes or spending like big companies, we lose our edge.'
Tips for growth
BrewDog's mission is to make people love great beer. Here's how Lisa realises this mission to grow the brand.
- Ask why. Always ask what you are trying to achieve and why. There are so many different things you could do that might not bring you any net benefit.
- Go faster than anyone else. BrewDog thinks of time in dog years. Every 1 human year is 7 for dogs, so every 1 day in BrewDog is worth 7.
- Ensure bang for your buck. Show that where you invest your money, you will get the right return, whether that’s brand awareness or profitability.
- Be aware of cultural differences. Whether that’s consumer behaviour or from a logistical standpoint.
- Work with great people. Trust and transparency is really crucial.
- It's okay to make mistakes. When you’re moving fast, mistakes are inevitable. Don’t be afraid to be punchy, keep pushing ahead, be resilient and find solutions to problems that come your way.
- Be customer obsessed. Listen to customers when they tell you that you have made mistakes. ‘It’s resilience that separates winners from losers,' Lisa says.
Finally, Lisa emphasises the importance of just getting stuff done. The company doesn’t talk, discuss and make strategies. For BrewDog ‘strategy is an excuse to postpone something while you’re creating the plan.’ And it’s clearly working.
- The startup mindset is an asset. Use it to move faster and be more disruptive than big companies.
- Move as fast as you can to keep ahead of your competitors and gain market share.
- Listen to your customers and put them at the centre of everything you do.